Several readers have written to complain about trash and other debris on the sides of highways around the Las Vegas Valley, wondering who — if anyone — cleans it up.
The Nevada Department of Transportation, which oversees 763 miles of freeways and roads in Clark County — about 14 percent of Southern Nevada’s total transportation network — does, though clearly not as quickly as some would like.
State-maintained highways and roads account for over 52 percent of vehicle miles traveled, including Interstate 15 and U.S. Highway 95, as well as several major local thoroughfares like Sahara Avenue and Charleston Boulevard. And there were over 18.3 million vehicle miles traveled in Clark County last year alone, according to NDOT.
Those motorists tossed a lot of junk out their windows, leaving the department’s six maintenance stations in Clark County, including two in Las Vegas, and 250 experienced maintenance workers in Southern Nevada with a mammoth job.
NDOT’s District 1 maintenance crew pick up 2,000 cubic yards of highway and roadside debris each month, generating enough trash to fill 100,000 bathtubs annually.
The crews operate 20 mechanical booms that sweep a 10-foot path across I-15 gutters and medians as well as other state-maintained Las Vegas Valley roadways at least once a week.
All that sweeping leads to broom bristles needing to be replaced every other week. The brooms are also dispatched when a spill or roadside hazard has been reported.
In fiscal 2018, the department invested $21.3 million in pavement surfacing, or roughly 80 percent of its maintenance budget. It also uses that money to keep more than 600 vehicles and approximately 2,000 pieces of heavy equipment such as snow plows on the road.
In addition to cleaning up debris, NDOT removes graffiti painted on its maintained areas.
“Investment in maintenance and upkeep curtails costly and larger repairs in the future,” said NDOT spokesman Tony Illia. “As such, proactive and consistent maintenance and reinvestment in our transportation infrastructure system is critical to ensuring statewide mobility and connectivity as well as reliability and longevity.”
NDOT crews are also often among the first on the scene of incidents on roadways, assisting drivers and emergency responders.
Their work isn’t without danger, as 24 NDOT employees have been killed in the line of duty since 1948.
The most recent NDOT employee killed on the job was Ron Raiche Jr., who was struck and killed by an inattentive driver on March 30, 2015, while repairing cracking roadway on Interstate 80 near Battle Mountain.
In response to those deaths, the Legislature amended the “Move Over Law” (Assembly Bill 17) in 2017, requiring motorists to stop or move over when approaching NDOT vehicles with flashing warning lights.
Drivers failing to do so can be charged with a misdemeanor.
St. Rose Parkway construction
A 7-mile stretch of St. Rose Parkway in Henderson will see lane restrictions over the next two weeks.
Roadway cracks between Las Vegas Boulevard and the 215 Beltway will be repaired Tuesday and Wednesday and then again Jan. 28-31, the Nevada Department of Transportation said.
Improvements will take place from 5 a.m.-2 p.m. daily, with crews working in moving operations.
Motorists can expect lane reductions through the work areas.
Department maintenance crews will be filling pavement cracks with an asphalt emulsion to reduce water infiltration and reinforce the roadbed.
“Crack filling prevents further roadway deterioration for a smoother, safer driving experience,” said Illia. “It’s a cost-effective maintenance solution that extends the roadway’s life cycle.”
Valle Verde Drive improvement
A $5.4 million improvement project on Valle Verde Drive is slated to upgrade a 3-mile portion of the Henderson road.
The project improvements will include new pavement, markings, continuous bike lanes and improved pedestrian facilities, including improved multi-modal access to the Pittman Wash Trail, Silver Springs Recreation Center, Gibson Elementary School and Greenspun Junior High, according to Henderson officials.
Work is expected to begin Feb. 4 between Horizon Ridge Parkway and Warm Springs Road. The project is expected to be complete in October.